25.5 mi / 10.7 mph / 847 ft. climbing
Home: Oceano Campground
Screams of wild coyotes broke through the nighttime silence (and our sleep) multiple times. I think I even heard one trot past the tent, though I tend to think I hear a lot of things in the dark that are revealed in the light to have been imaginary. For the most part I think we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to tent-sleeping, and are generally tired enough that we drop off to sleep quickly and don’t grant those unknown noises the power to keep us awake too much anymore.
In the dawn light, one small coyote was still left mewling like an operatic soprano in her dressing room, and it’s a good thing that I didn’t let him disturb my sleep, because when I was up standing and preparing breakfast, he seemed less-frightening than a large puppy.
After breakfast, I biked back over to the hill we’d climbed the night before, to get a photo of Morro Rock in the morning light. From the hill, I looked back to the campground and could see a line of animals streaming through it, but was too slow to get my camera into telescope-mode to identify them.
When I got back, Rett excitedly informed me that they were turkeys, and they had streamed right by our tents in the hiker/biker site. For a campground in an urban area, it sure was filled with wildlife, and I hadn’t even yet spotted the lizard catching the fresh sun on the eucalyptus. Later we saw the turkeys giving the early-bird golfers exactly what they signed up for on the 9th fairway; I’d say they’re better than the Canada geese that usually make those green lawns home!
We spoke more with the three “local” cyclists in camp about riding conditions and places to see in the area, and got a strong recommendation to go off-course a bit and visit the Danish-themed town of Solvang in the Santa Ynez valley. We’re nothing if not bike tourers who go off course (especially since we still have days to fill before Christmas), so we made plans to head that way tomorrow.
We made a short second-breakfast stop at the Los Osos Oaks State Reserve, and followed the twists and turns that these trees have made in their 800-year lives. Such a different approach to longevity than the straight-and-narrow Coast Redwoods that, until now, had mostly informed our understanding of how to reach ancient age.
The road then opened up to a stretch of pointed, Teton-like mountains that we have not seen the like of since we last saw Mount Rainier in Washington. Obviously not nearly that tall, or ice-covered, but of a similar volcanic origin. These were some of the volcanic plugs that extend the line from Morro Rock.
We rolled into our second non-hiker/biker campsite in a weeks, and it was an open, sandy, under-construction disappointment. We had to wait for the official 2pm check-in time to even be allowed to set up, in the meantime being serenaded by a drunk old man in the next site (at least his late-60s, Rett’s-dad soundtrack of Neil Young, Santana, and Jimi Hendrix, was a better choice than most). He wheeled about in his Rascal to frequently speak to the equally-odd guy on the other side of us whose giant tent was either built of, or covered with, brown construction tarps, had no apparent vehicle, but had his site decorated with sunflowers and frequently flew a kite.
We run our camp stove on unleaded gasoline, but use alcohol to prime it, and automotive fuel-line antifreeze Heet is the cheap and easy alcohol to use for that. I had initially been surprised that Heet had been available in every gas station on the West Coast, where it usually doesn’t get terribly freezing, but had not been able to get any in the last five gas stations I’d checked. Apparently we’ve finally gotten far enough south that it’s (sensibly) not a standard product anymore. Luckily, AutoZone still carries it here, but I had to make a run on the bike into town to pick some up before dinner. If the campground conditions hadn’t been enough to put me in a foul mood, the atrocious roads and overall dismal feeling of Grover Beach stuck me solidly in annoyed-land.
And to top it off, my dew-detector started firing early in the evening, for the first time in weeks, so we had to rush to get everything covered up, and remember how to endure a wet camp. At least the old hippie had, like Rett’s dad, zonked off early and left the nighttime quiet.